It’s crazy to me how quickly this month has gone by. One month ago, we were in Xi’an, China sitting in a room waiting for our lives to change forever. Then all of a sudden, they brought in this precious little girl (who was screaming her head off), handed her to us and left. That was it. She was ours. And she is amazing.
Honestly, Ashby is the perfect little addition to our family. Sometimes, I look at her and think, “what if we wouldn’t have done this?”. What if we had gotten scared? What if we thought we weren’t called for this? What if we played it safe and just remained a family of four because it was easier? What if? If we wouldn’t have adopted, Andrew, Kensington, Smith and I would have missed out on the real blessing…Ashby. Everyone keeps saying how lucky she is to have us…but no, that’s not it! WE are so incredibly blessed to have her. She has already changed our lives for the better. I think we are all equally blessed.
So, each month, I’m going to just review (for my own documentation more than anything) what happened over the prior 30 days. Progress, set backs, accomplishments, struggles and things like that need to be documented so that we can always remember this journey.
I read so many adoption books last year and one theme that kept popping up in so many was this…when you bring your child home, instead of worrying about all of the things you need to teach them to get them caught up to where other kids are their age, you just need to show them that they are loved. Many authors suggested that the first year is all about showing love…the learning will come later, but the love needs to come first. So, we’re really trying to stick with that. Ashby needs to know she is loved. That has been our biggest goal this last month.
Language: It is amazing to me how quickly she is picking up the English language. Right now, she has a base of around 15 English words that she uses regularly (many times, she’ll string them together…like “hi dada!” or “no Smith”). Even though she is only saying a handful of words, she understands many, many, many more. We can say things like “put your shoes in your room” and she will do exactly that. Or I can say “take daddy your drink” and she’ll do that too. I feel very confident that she understands most of what I say. She answers yes and no questions really well.
I am very grateful that one of my very favorite people on earth is a speech therapist because Ashby has already started working with her and is doing really well. When I hear Bowen talk to me (who is 5 months younger than Ashby), it reminds me how far we have to go (that kid can really talk!), but I know her language will come too. I love that I can say things like “it’s time to take a nap” and she will say “no”…that sounds like a typical 2 year old, right? 😉
Physical Development: We went to the pediatrician for Ashby’s 2.5 year well visit…her first appointment in the US…and learned several things:
1. She hated it and screamed the entire time.
2. It’s going to be a long year of doctor visits if this doesn’t improve.
3. I cancelled her dentist appointment in early February because I can only imagine how terrifying that would be now that I’ve seen a basic well visit.
She was not a fan of the doctor, so that’s something we’re going to pray gets better over the next few months (she has many visits in her near future). Her height right now is in the 25th% percentile for kids her age and her weight was just below the 5th%. These numbers are pretty common for kiddos coming from her background. Other than the constant screaming, health wise, she checked out just fine. We weren’t able to do vision or hearing screenings because of her screaming…but we’ll try again next time :).
Sleeping: Right now, Ashby is sleeping and napping in our bed. We are working on attachment and sleeping together helps with that.
During nap time, I will put her down and then fold laundry in my room while she falls asleep (so I’m there and she can see me but I’m not lying down next to her). They gave us her daily schedule at the orphanage and we’ve really tried to stick with it. She napped there at noon each day which works out great for us too. I put her down at noon and then wake her up when it’s time to pick up the big kids from school. At night, she goes to sleep at 7:45 when Kensington and Smith do. I typically take a shower, put on my pjs and such right after I put her down and she falls right to sleep. She likes to sleep with lights on, so this works out great because I don’t have to worry about the bathroom light bothering her and then I can read or watch TV in bed with her and she’s not disturbed.
It will be nice when she can sleep in her own bed, but for the moment, I’m enjoying having her with me…
Food: Going into adoption, I was nervous about her eating habits. I’ve heard this can be really hard and kids often times won’t eat, but so far, she has been a champ in this department. Ashby eats three meals a day plus at least two snacks and she drinks a lot of water throughout the day (they told us in her orphanage that she likes to drinks a lot of water). Ashby is eating whatever we’re eating and her diet has quite the variety. The only thing I’ve found she won’t eat are blueberries (but she’ll eat them when they’re in things like a waffle). Her favorite foods are proteins like eggs, pork, sausage and chicken, but she eats everything.
Our favorite parts about eating with Ashby are that she now puts her hands together and bows her head when we pray before saying a big “Amen” at the end :)…and that she loves to have a tidy eating space. She requires a napkin with everything she eats (even when she’s just eating a snack) and wipes her hands after each bite, and then we know when she’s done eating a meal because she’ll push her plate away and wipe off the table where her plate had been sitting. It’s the funniest thing!
Attachment: Ashby is attaching really well. Right now, she’s most attached to me. She love, love, loves Andrew and goes running and shrieking towards him after work each day or when she sees him but she is most definitely a mama’s girl. She likes to know where I am and if I leave (like to get out of the car and run in somewhere while Andrew stays in the car with her), she’s not relaxed until I come back.
Poppy: Well, Ashby met Poppy (our little 7 pound dog who does nothing but lay around all day) and was absolutely terrified. She screamed and cried and threw a fit so much that I just knew we would have to give the dog away…and then like four days later she was over it. Now, she just ignores Poppy and they both go about their business.
Potty Training: If you looked up “world’s worst potty training parent” in the dictionary, there would be a picture of me. I tried to blame Kensington for being a difficult potty training child until the following year when Smith came along…and then there was no denying it was me. Yes, I’ve tried the 3 Day Method and no, it never worked for a Shull kid. That being said, Ashby was potty trained in China (except for at night), so Andrew and I have really tried to keep up that momentum. It’s going okay. The part that is hard is that Ashby doesn’t have the verbal skills to tell us when she needs to go (like they said she did in China). We even learned Chinese potty phrases to use with her (thanks to her foster mom), but she looks at us like we’re crazy when we use them :).
I worried, fussed, cried and felt defeated through two rounds of potty training (at one point, I was potty training Kensington and Smith at the same time…ugggg) with my big kids and refuse to do it again. No matter how bad I stink at potty training, eventually my older kids figured it all out, so I know Ashby will too.
Going out: We’ve been spending most days at home, but occasionally we’ll go out for an errand or lunch before returning for that 12:00 PM nap. She has been a trooper in the car and really good out. I’ve taken her to the grocery store twice and both times, she did great!
Playing: Ashby’s favorite things to do at home are read books and push around toy strollers full of goodies. I was looking for a ramekin the other day (it had been sitting on the counter and then I looked down and it was gone) and she was pushing it around :). She also loves playing with whatever Smith and Kensington are playing with. Smith is really into swords and now, so is Ashby :).
Other random things:
1. Ashby loves to sit on the counter and watch me/help me cook. It took her all of one day to realize cooking in our house is a big deal (and common recurrence). Any time I’m in the kitchen, she’s right in there with me.
2. Ashby has a “witching hour”. Right around 4:45, Ashby gets fussy until about 5:30. She has a snack at 3:30 after the big kids are home from school but I think she’s already hungry again at 4:45. I’ve started giving her some milk and turning Mickey Mouse on for her during this time period to help it pass more quickly (and quietly). It’s helping. She’s just done at 4:45. She doesn’t want to play, be held, do anything…so, our new routine is working (so far).
3. She loves to color. If you give her a piece of paper and some crayons, she will color her heart out and then say “ta-da”. It’s so cute! We color a lot over here :).
Well, one month down…the rest of our lives to go :). We’re just so blessed to have this sweet girl. She is the perfect little addition to our family.